Published on 29 March 2023
New research published today by LINK, the UK’s cash access and ATM network, shows nearly half (45%) of people have been somewhere that has not accepted, or has discouraged the use of cash over the past eight weeks and one in five (20%) said this was fairly or very inconvenient.

As more retailers and councils opt to go cashless, the most frequent locations where people are been unable to pay in cash are in a restaurant (12%), in a café (12%) and the growing issue of paying for parking, where 11% of people said they’d been unable to pay using cash.

London came out top as the region in the UK where non-acceptance was highest with 58% of people responding they had been discouraged or told the location did not accept cash. This was followed by the Southeast and Wales (49% respectively). The lowest was in Northern Ireland at 29%.

Over the past three years, LINK has regularly conducted research to understand people’s attitude towards cash use through the pandemic and now into the cost-of-living crisis. From the most recent data, the other key headlines include:

  • When asked how people use cash to manage their finances, one-fifth (20%) said they put spare change in jars or piggy banks. There’s evidence of people using cash to manage discretionary spending including going to bars and pubs (13%) and non-essentials (13%). The recent social media trend of putting money in specific envelopes is used by 8%.
  • Saving in piggy banks and jars is most popular in Wales (32%), Scotland (30%) and Northern Ireland (25%).
  • When asked about managing the cost of living, the most common answer on saving money is to cut down eating out or ordering takeaways with almost half (48%) saying they are planning to do this. 40% said they are planning to buy value brands or ‘yellow stickers’ and 28% cancelling subscriptions to things like Netflix or the gym.
  • 18% are planning on writing down what they spend to track outgoings and one-in-ten (10%) using more cash.
  • The majority of people have used cash in the past two weeks (71%)

Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK: "We’ve seen a few stories in national media of late highlighting the issues of parking with customers not even able to use their cards, let alone cash. There’s been a broader trend with more shops and councils either becoming cashless or asking their customers to pay with card instead. We know many people are comfortable paying with cards or online, but there are still millions of people who don’t use technology and where this is problematic.

"It’s also interesting to see cash used for saving and that some people are going back to basics when managing their money, using cash to budget, saving loose change in coin jars and writing all their outgoings in one place."


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